The information about the arrival of members of the Syrian opposition to Pristina, in order to get advice and help in battle against Bashar al-Assad, did not surprise the national public, but the news of members of the former terrorist KLA preparing an international camp for the training of the rebels has worried many people in the Balkans and wider. The report of Ivana Subasic.
Moscow was the first to react to the news of connections between the Syrian opposition and the authorities of the self-declared Republic of Kosovo, and assessed that the training of Syrian rebels is in discord with the efforts of the UN to calm down the situation in Syria. Russia has invited the international forces in Kosmet to stop the training of the armed Syrian opposition, adding that turning the province in an international base for the rebel training could become the main destabilizing factor in the Balkans. The Russian media report, quoting the reports of the western agencies, that the delegation of the rebels has gone to Pristina directly form USA, where, allegedly, they had an agreement on how to use the assistance of the KLA to realize their goals.
The Albanian authorities in Pristina are denying the existence of the military training camps. However, Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid has told the media in Pristina that they will be learning from former members of the KLA how to unite the diverse armed groups in Syria and wage a guerilla war against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. “The example of Kosovo can be inspiring. They had already passed that road and have the necessary experience that is very useful to us. We are especially interested in learning how to gather into one army our dispersed armed groups”, said Abdulhamid. In the meantime, former Lybian rebels have also arrived to Kosmet, for whom a similar program of demilitarization has been prepared as for the KLA in the summer of 1999.
The expert public is not surprised with such events. The analysts remind that for many years there have been firm ties between the Albanian extremists in Kosmet and a large number of Islamic countries, because many Albanians had gone to those countries for religious education. The training will probably take place in old KLA camps on the border with Albania and other places where there are no more Serbs. Since at issue is the guerilla training, the region of the Prokletije Mountains will probably be used, as is bear geographical similarities with the relief in Syria. Also mentioned as the potential training centers are old KLA bases in Kuks and Tropoja, in northern Albania, where the arrival of US first response forces has been announced these days. The region of Macedonia is not excluded either. However, especially concerning in this whole story is the fact that Kosovo will again become a military training ground. The experts stress that, in context of the current situation in the region, i.e. the events in Macedonia and frequent extremist attacks in Kosmet, it could have serious consequences – not only for the Balkans, but on a larger scale, too. The question is, why do the international forces in the region tolerate it?